Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Catholic Church.

I think this is an awesome video. The Catholic Church is the one, true universal church; founded by Jesus Christ himself.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Science Winner Is....

Well, after much looking through, discussing, and setting goals, we have finally decided on our science curriculum. Lucky for me that DH is spear-heading this subject and he will be the one teaching. Because of that, I let him make the ultimate decision. So who did we pick? After carefully considering the contenders, DH chose Living Learning Book AND Harcourt Science. Somehow these two will be meshed into one big science study for the year. Once we work out the kinks in combining the curriculum, I will post our schedule so you can see what we are planning.

The reasons behind the decision? We both really loved the colorful text of Harcourt and the amount of activities and experiments to choose from. DH is a big fan of testing (he sees this as a fact of life) so the end of chapter reviews were a big hit for him. Having a workbook available is also something he is looking forward to using. The downside for Harcourt was the lack of depth he was looking for, therefore, Living Learning Books fit the bill in this area. Altogether, I think that a combination of narration with workbooks will fit us fine and keep the kids happy.

So there! Just another reason why homeschooling is the BEST!!! You can mix and match until you are happy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Science: A Review.

I just received my copy of Harcourt Science in the mail. I am trying to decide between using Living Learning Books, Harcourt Level 2, or NOEO Science for our first grade year. I suppose this is my review for those science curricula. I have been shopping around for just the right fit for our family. Since we are using a classical method of teaching, we really want to follow through with it in our science program meaning that we want to cycle through biology, chemistry, and physics using a format that uses living books and narration.

Worksheets definitely have a place in our home too, mainly because I think they are useful and my kids enjoy them. But, spitting out facts in order to fill in the blanks is not what I want our science curriculum to entail. I like notebooking and narration because it makes you think. "What was this experiment all about? What is this book saying? What is my interpretation of this experiment/nature walk/book?" Of course, I know that thinking this way takes training and I won't be expecting a complete synopsis from a 6 year old.

Living Learning Books: I really like that this curriculum follows the classical method and is as close to what the WTM is suggesting you do for first grade science. The lesson plans are all written out for you. They include a list of reading materials, additional book and video suggestions and a list of materials needed for projects. Also part of the program is the student activity pack, which comes with coloring pages, narration pages, and more. The curriculum is then broken into 3 different sections. The study of animals is first and comprises of 20 weeks, the human body is second with 10 weeks of study, and lastly is the study of plants with 6 weeks of study. This gives you a whole year of material to study, with science taking place twice a week.

Overall, I like the flexibility in choosing the books used for each unit and that the suggestions are there for you to use as opposed to having to hunt for books all on your own. I also like that projects and experiments are already set for you and all you have to do is collect the materials needed. This program seems flexible enough to use as-is, supplement for those wanting greater depth, or use as a light program.

Harcourt Science: As I have been looking through this book the past few days, I realized how important colorful pictures are when teaching science. Marco actually stole the book from me and took it so that he could look through it! This book is divided into units covering life science, earth science, and physical science. There are no lesson plans that come with this book, but a separate student workbook is available. I'm sure that with a little planning, creating your own lesson plans would not be a problem. Beginning every unit is an experiment that is meant to tie in all the chapters within the unit. There is also an investigation or experiment at the beginning of every chapter. They are all simple enough to do with household items and a great way to begin the study. Ending the chapter are "links", or ways to incorporate the science lesson into different subjects. These "links" offer ideas and things to do for math and social studies. There is also a chapter review that is typical of textbooks, followed by further activities and suggestions for expeditions (such as visiting a preserve or park).

Overall, this is a colorful textbook that appeals to children. It is great for hands-on in that there are plenty of experiments to do and choose from. The downside is that this is your typical textbook, offering a lot of information on many things, but nothing in depth. You would have to supplement with some living books in order for your child to gain more insight into any particular subject. For example, after reading about the life cycle of a bird(an example used in the book), your child might want to know what birds eat or where they live. This book would not be useful to you if more detailed questions arise. It is a very general text, but covers an appropriate amount of subjects. In this book you will find the following units: Living Things Grow and Change, Homes for Living Things, Exploring Earth's Surface, Space and Weather, Exploring Matter, Energy in Motion. This is a great text to accompany any first grade life science curriculum or second grade earth science curriculum. It can easily be used as a stand alone for the family who wants to do basic science without getting into too much depth. The amount of activities in the book are more than enough to keep any homeschooling family occupied and having some science fun.

NOEO Science: This will be my shortest review since it is the only science curriculum I haven't been able to look through and compare. After reading other's reviews and visiting the NOEO website, I have concluded that this program is very similar to Living Learning Books. It follows a classical model in that you cycle through biology, chemistry, and physics; all of which get progressively more in depth/difficult as your child advances in grades. They incorporate narration over worksheets, they use living books over textbooks, and science experiments seem to also involve much observation. Their curriculum comes with lesson plans all made out so that you don't have to do the leg work. If you purchase their set, they include all the books needed for the year as well as science kits used for experiments. From what I have read, the thing this program lacks is more hands-on involvement. It seems that they do just enough to catch the child's interest, but some more kinesthetic learners might need supplementing.

Overall, this curriculum gets very high marks from the majority of its users. It follows the same outline as Living Learning Books and incorporates the same principles of classical studies through the cycling of topics and use of narration and notebooking. Their schedule is intended to be done 4 times a week for 15-20 minutes each time, or it can be done twice a week with longer 30-40 minute lessons.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ski Weekend.

This weekend we took a little getaway with some friends up to Sugar Mountain. It was our first time skiing and we were hoping for all of us to have lots of fun. Let me tell you!! Skiing with a bunch of little kids is NOT easy! You have to have all the gear: skis, ski boots, jackets, gloves, hats, ski socks, snow pants, and even (if you go all out) ski goggles.

So imagine this scene: 6 kids all 5 years old and under (4 of ours and 2 friends), 4 adults (1 of which is very pregnant...no not me) and all the above mentioned ski gear for all the kids and adults. You do the math and then see what you get. Oh! And add to that going from the parking lot up a hill to the actual ski place. OK, so getting there was not fun. BUT...

I loved skiing and so did the kids! DH did not enjoy it at all, so next time he'll do the tubing while we hit the slopes. Granted we only stayed on the bunny hill, but I really loved trying something new. I think Isabella was the most excited about skiing, although both she and Marco did exceptional!! Anthony on the hand was a bit frightened and only managed to make it half-way down the hill. Christian was very good and took a good nap while I had him in the Bjorn and I was fortunate to have friends around to take turns holding him.

On a side note, let me add that if it wasn't for our AWESOME friends, the trip would have been horrible! Thanks to all the grown-ups who helped our little ones learn to ski, because we surely didn't know the first thing! More pictures will follow as I get them downloaded from our other camera.
Marco all geared up!
Anthony resisted the skis.
Up on the magic carpet to go for another turn down the hill.

Isabella with friends learning to ski.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sleeping.


Ahh, sleep! The thing once taken for granted is now the most elusive thing in my life. My latest adventures in sleep include getting a 6 month old to sleep through the night and training our 2 year old to stay in his new big boy bed. It's amazing what being sick does to kids. Their clocks get all messed up and then they become accustomed to having you sleep with them. Such difficult habits to break!!


But today is a new day! I am closer to conquering the sleep monster and have been working diligently at not letting the only time I have to myself dissappear. This, of course, is nap time and bedtime. Anthony is now cozily sleeping in his bed for his naps. It took about 3 days to train him and I won't have none of the "read me a million books Mommy!" It's nap time and you must stay in your room and on your bed because I said so! Bedtime is still in the works. At least he is not getting out of bed like he was at the beginning of the week. Now it's just ignoring the noises and keeping him from waking up his siblings.


Babies. They make you do the darnest things! They are cute, cuddly, and so innocent. Having him sleep in bed with me for one night won't hurt, will it? But then one night becomes two and two becomes a week and so forth. Now I'm begging to turn back time to when he was comfy sleeping in his crib next to my bed. A time when I was being good and letting him put himself to sleep. A time when my darling little baby was sleeping for 7 hours at night without so much as making a small noise. Now I've turned into a tortured mom. Letting your child get used to put himself to sleep is not an easy task. Luckily, these things last only about a week (maybe two!).


Until then, if I seem to be half asleep...I probably am. Bear with me as I continue my attack on the stealer of dreams, the disruptor of sleep cycles. And I will win; for my own sanity I have to win!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Draw Write Now.

Here are what Marco and Isabella drew using Draw Write Now for the first time. Of course, I helped Isabella a little more than Marco, but they still both needed me to sit next to them and guide them. I imagine that the more you use it, the more independent you get.

Marco decided he wanted to draw a cat.




Isabella chose to draw a girl.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

An Evening With Friends.

Last night I hosted a curriculum swap of sorts. I invited moms from our co-op over to my home in order to share the curriculum we use and ideas we have for homeschooling. The evening was fabulous and we all got to preview each other's materials. This was great, since many of them had books I've been wanting to purchase, but was unsure of the content.

Thanks to all the great resources I saw, I am once again revamping my first grade curriculum. I am mostly making a change in our religion and introducing new art materials. It's amazing how much you can learn from others' experiences! I love hearing what has worked for others and what has not. Being Catholic, it's important to me not to present material that might raise red flags in my beliefs. This group of ladies offered so many insights that I came away rejuvinated and refreshed!

And although I know that all children mature their own academic abilities at different rates, I still love seeing what other homeschooling kids are doing. My friend, Katie, had samples of her son's art and I was so impressed with his work that I decided to give that art program another try. Sometimes all those reviews you read about just don't cut it. Sometimes seeing what other children are able to accomplish and hold their work in your hands is the only way to really evaluate what your own kids might be able to do.

So thanks to all my friends who came over and brought their materials to share! I am forever grateful and blessed to have these women in my life. Inspiration often comes from the everyday people in your life who do everyday things.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Upholstery Revival.

Our dining room set was so beautiful when we first received it as a gift from my parents. The table, a beautiful cherry colored wood. The chairs, gorgeous with the seat covers in ivory. Then the reality. We have children. Young children.

The once pristine table has been scratched by an eager writer using a deadly, sharpened pencil. The chairs? Once an almost white, they became scarred with chocolate milk, grape juice and markers. What am I to do? Reupholster them of course! I can't convey to you how badly the pictures are. They do not do the stains justice. But I am pleased with the results. A nice red burgundy color will hide most stains! As for the scratches on the table? No measure by my hands has been able to salvage the once smooth, clean, scratch-free table I once had. But a furniture marker has been working overtime in hiding the evidence.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Recovering.

Well we are finally in the recovering stages of sickness. No one is really sick, but everyone is tired. I am recovering from sleeping only 2-3 hours a night for a week due to a sick baby. The kids are getting over their coughs and achiness. School-wise we are not doing much except reading some fun books.

Hopefully I'll get to sleep more in the days to come.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Monday.

Today has been quite a hectic day. We have all children sick with a cough and the 2 littles with croup. Luckily, we survived the night after a trip to the emergency department. I surely thought that plans for school had been thrown out the window...but then here comes Marco & Isabella.

I have great kids! Although no one wanted to do math or phonics, all our learning issues for insects, handwriting, and religion were covered! School went on without a hitch and the kids had fun making insect crafts.

Luckily, dh was home to tend to the little guys while we schooled. In the afternoon, things got loopy again and I took Anthony and Christian to the doctor. Dinner was a quick turkey burger and some cereal. Hmm.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

NY Giants Superbowl Champions!


This year was the BEST in football for my dh. He is a HUGE Giants fan so we were all rooting for the Giants during Super Bowl.


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Week in Review.

This week we studied the water cycle, began our Rosary prayers, and continued along with math, phonics, handwriting, and MFW. The highlight, of course, was our water experiments and lapbook.

It was fun to do experiments with the kids. We saw water change into its 3 different states: liquid, gas, and solid. Creating lapbook and posters are usually the favorite around here. I found some great online resources that were fun for the kids to use. Unfortunately, our lapbook didn't turn out to be as great as it could have been. Having to squeeze 2 days work into a morning usually results in sub-par work. Since we had friends visiting us for a few days during school hours, we had to make up the work on Saturday morning. So we had to forgo some of the fun books we were going to make for our lapbook and such. We still got to do some fun "water cycle wheels" and a "types of water" book. The kids had fun learning and I can't complain about that!